A surge in the number of sheep and goats slaughtered without being stunned first has been criticised by vet groups.
About 24.4 per cent of sheep and goats were slaughtered without pre-stunning between April and June this year, up from 15 per cent in 2013, while the number of chickens slaughtered the same way jumped from 3 per cent to 18.5 per cent.
The BVA blamed the increase on the 2013 introduction on UK-adoption of EU law allowing exemption for animals slaughtered for religious purposes, such as halal and kosher.
Gudrun Ravetz, BVA president, said the organisation hoped to reverse the trend which ‘unnecessarily compromises the welfare of animals at the time of death’.
She said: “The supply of meat from animals which have not been stunned massively outstrips the demand from the communities for which it is intended and is entering the mainstream market unlabelled.
“In light of these official figures we reiterate our call for all animals to be stunned before slaughter.
“If slaughter without stunning is still to be permitted, any meat from this source must be clearly labelled and the supply of non-stun products should be matched with demand.”
Catherine McLaughlin, NFU chief animal health and welfare adviser, said farmers wanted to know their animals were slaughtered in a ’respectful and humane manner’.
“We would therefore expect that whatever method is used, it should place animal welfare as a priority and employ sound scientific principles to its method.
“The NFU recognises good labelling is important to consumers and would urge shoppers to seek out the Red Tractor logo on packaging, a standard which requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter.”